- Kathryn R. Biel
****WARNING: This is a soap box post. It is what I think and I believe. It is me, exercising my first amendment rights. You don't have to agree with me, but think carefully about what I say.***
Right now, Pat and I are watching a TV show that I like to call the "Feel Good Show of the Year." In the TV guide, it is listed as Intervention. For those of you not familiar, it is a show about an addict and the family stages an intervention in attempts to help save the person's life. The current episode is about a 22 year old addict who has turned to prostitution. She has a 3 year old son, who is being raised by his father. This young woman was born to an 18 year old mother who was incapable of caring for her daughter. She dropped her daughter off on her father's doorstep at the age of 3. Her father cared more about partying and women than of being a parent and his parenting strategy was just to buy his young daughter stuff. He was on his second or third wife by the time the girl was 12, and, when she (big shock here) developed behavior problems, they sent her to "camps" in Costa Rica and Jamaica for over a year, until the "camps" were closed for abuse and human rights violations. Her father was unaware that his daughter was being abused (he had never even visited, just sent her to one where the brochure looked nice) until a reporter contacted him and told him what was going on there. So, now, she's a suicidal crack-whore, and the father had the nerve to complain that her expenses (food, hotel, legal costs) has run him about $20,000 in the past year.
What this man does not realize is that money is not a substitute for actual parenting. If he had actually been a father to this girl, she would not be in this position.
Having the ability to physically reproduce does not make one able to be a parent. Being a parent is hard. Really hard. It takes a lot of sacrifice. It means putting other people's needs ahead of yours. Always. It means sacrificing, planning. It is full of heartache and heartbreak. But it is also the most rewarding experience I can think of.
I work with countless children who are underfed, not properly clothed, do not get taken to the doctors regularly (if ever) and desperately need to be hugged. They are not read to and not nurtured. Most are not only children. The teachers are held responsible for 100% of the educational process, as nothing happens at home. These parents are not concerned with academics, but contact the teachers because they are upset that their Kindergartner's white, $70 adidas sneakers got dirty at recess. These parents don't bathe or clean their children, and keep having more that they cannot or will not care for.
I am so frustrated by people who believe that they are entitled to everything, and that hard work is something to be ashamed of. There are children being born into generation after generation of this mindset, with no desire to improve. Working in a fast food restaurant is demeaning, but collecting every social benefit known to man is not. And in this season of giving, people were coming out of the woodwork asking for donations. I know that I am fortunate. We have a lot and my children do not want for anything. But, asking for a social agency/school/church to provide your Christmas (but we can't even say Merry Christmas...another soap box), but then asking for designer clothes and high tech items...there is confusion as to "wants" and "needs." If you have an iphone 4S, smoke (at $9/pack), get your nails done, or drive an Escalade, you do not need free lunch for your kids. I do not need to be buying your child toys because you don't want to.
In order to adopt a dog, you have to get pass a rigorous screening, including a home visit. You have to take a test to drive a car or a license to even catch a fish. But anyone can have a kid. And you can repeatedly screw the kid up, and the popular thought is that "biological is best" so that if you screw up your kid sooo badly, they might take him or her away to be raised by the people who screwed you up in the first place.
I have been having a difficult time with my daughter the past week. Her behavior is more like a 14 year old than a 4 year old. I don't know what to do. Being a parent to my son has in no way prepared me for parenting my daughter. I have been agonizing over what to do, and how to get through to her. I have gone through similar periods of agony in parenting my son, especially with his unique set of needs.
I don't know if I would have passed the parenting test, but Lord knows, I try. I am not the best mother out there, but I know I'm not the worst. I want to instill in my children a value of responsibility and ownership of one's actions rather than entitlement. I worry that the society they are growing in will squash these values.
I know that our societal irresponsibility is a major contributing factor to our current economic and educational crises. Until people begin to take ownership rather than feel entitlement, the situation is only going to continue to worsen. No politician will be able to fix the problem without admitting what it actually is. People need to take responsibility for themselves. So that means, if you can't afford to feed your child, don't have one. If you'd rather be out partying with your friends, don't have a kid. If you can't afford food or furniture, don't buy designer clothes that your kids are going to grow out of in a few months. If you aren't working, you should not be using your benefit money to buy cigarettes. If I have to pass a drug test to earn the money to pay for social benefits, then you should have to pass a drug test to receive them.
Almost done with the ranting here. During the above described program, there have been several commercials for the ASPCA. See, this is what's wrong with us--we are listening to a story about people who cannot take care of their children and horribly screw them up, but then are asked for money to prevent cruelty to animals. Now, I am not advocating for animal cruelty, but when we, as humans, can't even take care of the most vulnerable members of our own, does our first priority really need to be cats and dogs? Thanks to new legislation, such as Buster's Law, people found being cruel to animals are severely punished. Yet, people abuse their children every day, and nothing happens.
Until we get our priorities straight, we are headed more and more steadily downhill. It just makes me frustrated.